Visual timetables to calm the brain

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As we see the increase in anxiety in our students, some displaying fight, flight, freeze or flop responses, it has become more and more necessary to provide containment for them and ‘no surprises’.

In my experience of observing and charting behaviour, many of the problems were occurring in the last week of term (this tends to be the week when we as teachers mention the forthcoming holidays).  If this is the case, how can we reduce the children’s anxiety?  I considered what made me feel secure and somehow in control, from which I decided knowing how my week, term and year looked like featured pretty high up.  My anxiety about the world had a structure and I wanted to emulate this for the children; that they could trust in the structure and shape of not just the school day, but the term and year too.  They could have some sense of perceived ‘control’ in the movements of the year.

I used to work with a very talented art therapist who introduced to me the idea of visual appointment sheets which mirrored the academic year.  I was reminded of her work and created displays and slides for presentation for whole school assemblies so that each child could see and feel the passing of time.  By doing so, I can see how the most anxious to the most secure child can feel the benefit of knowing whereabouts we are in the year.  They are calmer, more settled.  Visual timetables keep things safe (relational), repetitive, rhythmic and respectful to the child which in turn helps regulate and keep the brain calm to learn.

You can find them here.